August 6, 2008
Generosity. The less you have, the more you give. Or so it is in Acholi land.Yet again, I've been completely overwhelmed by the generosity and good will I'm extended in the Acholi Quarter. Late Wednesday afternoon as I'm saying my farewells, needing to hurry so I don't miss my flight, the women of Project Have Hope gather to wish me a safe journey. Their dancing lightens my heart. Then they serenade me with their lovely songs. A sadness overwhelms me. Saddened that I'm saying good-bye to many friends who I will not see for months. Their generosity of kindness truly touches the soul. But it does not stop there. A new song begins, and one by one, I am paraded with gifts. A beautiful basket. A wooden plaque depicting an Acholi homestead. Gifts for the twins my cousin recently baptized. Gifts for the sponsors of some of our children. And 2 wooden statues - one to represent me, a fair-skinned woman, and the other a dark-skinned man toting a fishing pole. Perhaps an allusion that I should marry an Acholi. I burst into laughter, but inside I'm filled with such strong emotions. How can people who have so little, give so much? Why do they spend money to shower me with such wonderful gifts when they need more than I'll ever need? How is it that in this world there are so many who live in poverty, while many of us enjoy luxuries beyond their comprehension? Why can't I do more for them?
As they begin to sing "Good-bye Karen," my heart nearly breaks. My mind swirls with the thoughts of all I'd like to do for them: give out more loans, expand the adult literacy program, build more gardens, build them each a home, treat their medical needs ... the list does not end, but the money does. And for each tear that wells in my eye and trickles down my cheek, is another hope I have for them.
By now I'm so late, I know I could easily miss my flight. Once again, I'm the American looking at my watch, keeping time, saying, "I'm sorry, but I must leave now." As I rush to get to the airport, I pause to think about the differences in our worlds.